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Laboratory of Excellence for Epidemiology and Modeling (LExEM) 

Facing the introduction and spread of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) into the territory of the Autonomous Province of Trento

Principal Investigator: Alessia Melegaro

Dondena Researchers: Piero Poletti, Emanuele del Fava

Funding Agency: Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), Research funds for Grandi Progetti


The general aim of this project is to establish a virtual laboratory of excellence in ecology, epidemiology, risk assessment and mathematical modelling in Trentino (LExEM). This “virtual” lab will allow scientists and researchers belonging to five research institutions to share knowledge and capacities in the field of animal and plant ecology, epidemiology, mathematical and geospatial modelling, pest and disease control using the most advanced ICT tools and without the needs for new infrastructures. More specifically, it will combine in an integrated and synergistic effort the activities of those research groups currently working independently at the Fondazione Edmund Mach (Animal Ecology, Biodiversity and Environment research groups, GIS and Remote Sensing platform), Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Predictive Models for Biomedicine and Environment), University of Trento (Department of Mathematics), Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie (Parasitology lab) and the Bocconi University (Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics).


LExEM aims at producing new strategic knowledge and innovative tools useful for supporting decision-making procedures in the field of risk assessment, prevention, mitigation and control of various animal and agriculture pests and diseases. These are of interest not only for the government of the Autonomous Province of Trento, their related Institutions and Agencies but also for most of the northern Italian regions. In fact, as a specific topic of the research activity, we will concentrate initially on a set of Invasive Alien Species (IAS), including their transmitted pathogens, currently heavily impacting on human, animal health and fruit production in the province of Trento, its neighbouring regions but even in other areas of Europe.


Our model species will include the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), the newly spreading mosquito species Aedes koreicus and the crop pest Drosophila suzukii. LExEM will produce new knowledge on their biology, ecology and behaviour at regional level other than a set of new advanced biologically consistent mathematical models, distribution maps and cost estimates related to various control options.